Justice John Bradshaw (1602-1659) was chief judge in the trial of Charles I and pronounced the death sentence on the King.

Bradshaw was buried in Westminster Abbey, but after the Restoration of Charles II he was pronounced a ‘regicide’, and his remains were dug-up and symbolically hanged in 1660. Local legend has it that the death warrant of Charles I was actually signed at the Old Manor House, in our very own Walton on Thames, as Bradshaw – who, as President of the High Court of Justice, had declared Charles I ‘Tyrant, Traitor, Murderer, and a public enemy’ – was leasing the property at the time.

Bradshaw’s fellow signatory on the warrant, Oliver Cromwell, lived in nearby Ashley Park. After Cromwell signed Charles I’s death warrant he was declared Lord Protector in 1653. He was asked to take on the title of King in a document called the Grand Remonstrance (dated 31 March 1657), but he refused. Bradshaw himself did not attend court until the third session after his appointment, apologising on the grounds that he had been out of London and disavowed his ability to perform “so important a task”. King Charles refused to recognise the authority of the court and would not plead.

After declaring Charles I guilty as a “Tyrant, Traitor, Murderer, and a public enemy,” Bradshaw did not allow the king any final words. Under English law, a condemned prisoner was no longer alive and therefore did not have the right to speak, and Bradshaw followed this tradition strictly. So, Charles I was found guilty of treason, with 59 Commissioners (or judges) signing his death warrant (including Bradshaw and Cromwell, number three on the warrant, see left). He was beheaded from a scaffold a t the Banqueting House in London on 30th January 1649